Maryland Uses 2nd Half Surge to Upend Northwestern

The seventeenth ranked Terrapins were trailing a young, inexperienced Northwestern Wildcat team in Evanston by fourteen at halftime when at the urging of his assistants, coach Mark Turgeon gave his team the speech. “I went in to meet with the coaches,” he said in his postgame press conference. “You got to be kidding. This is two halves in a row we shot twenty-four percent. I can’t believe the way we are guarding. They said, ‘coach, you got to give a speech.’ So I gave a speech. I’ve given it before. When I said this one part of the speech and they all smiled, I knew we had a shot.”

Maryland’s Jalen Smith defended by NU’s Ryan Young

Maryland proceeded to outscore Northwestern by 25 points en route to a 77-66 victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Aaron Wiggins drained a three-pointer to close the gap to two points with nine minutes left to go. On the next play, Northwestern’s Pat Spencer drove for a layup that was blocked by Jalen Smith. He outlet the ball to Wiggins, who fed Anthony Cowan, Jr., who in turn knocked down another trey from the top right side of the arc. The Terps pretty much never looked back.

Even though Northwestern regained the lead with just over seven minutes to play, it was short-lived. Maryland answered right back with a three-pointer from Eric Ayala. There was another tie score with 6:38 left, then the Terps put on a free throw shooting clinic, converting on 26 of their 29 attempts in the game.

Smith led all scorers with 25 points, including two three-pointers, eleven rebounds and he was a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Wiggins had 17 points, with all five of his baskets from threes. Cowan was also in double figures with 12 points and six assists.

They were sagging back and we were missing some wide open threes. It kind of got in our head a little bit. In the second half we changed the way we were playing, changed the mental attitude towards the game. We played for the love of the game. Guys were enjoying it. It was great to see. The confidence we shot late in the game, I haven’t seen all year. It’s really hard for me to watch my guys not play with confidence at times. And to see them play the way they played the second half is a really good feeling, and hopefully that will help us moving forward.

-Maryland coach Mark Turgeon
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was not happy with his team’s first half performance.

Northwestern also had three players in double figures, led by Spencer’s 17 points and nine rebounds. Forward Miller Kopp added 16 points, and Pete Nance, son of NBA legend Larry Nance finished with 11. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they couldn’t maintain their torrid shooting pace of 60% from the first half, going 9-23 in the second half.

Pat Spencer on defense for the Wildcats

I think there was a lot of frustration tonight. To have the lead that we did, and let it slip away in the second half, the message was a little more stern tonight not about how tough you have to be to win in this league. It requires not only good play, but a lot of toughness because the games are long and there’s going to be a lot of runs. You can’t expect they weren’t going to go on a little bit of a run. You have to dig down and you have to find baskets.

-Northwestern coach Chris Collins.
Coach Chris Collins feels his team’s growing pains.
Hear selected post game comments from Mark Turgeon and Chris Collins

tags: College Basketball, Big Ten, Maryland Terrapins, Northwestern Wildcats
all photos by SRN Broadcasting